I went to the TEPCO annual general meeting for its shareholders on Tuesday to create a stronger public discussion of the failure of TEPCO to live up to its responsibilities following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
First, though my colleagues with Greenpeace Japan, colleagues from Turkey and India and volunteers had a small protest outside the AGM to highlight the risks of nuclear energy for all of us.
Our message to the shareholders heading into the AGM was nuclear power is a gamble. The casino theatre and our banners at this protest said: “Nuclear gamblers must pay.”
The main gamblers in our sights are GE, Hitachi and Toshiba — the companies that designed and built the flawed reactors that melted down at Fukushima. These companies haven’t paid a cent to help victims or TEPCO shareholders. They are protected from paying by the government.
To bring this message about the suppliers not paying to the AGM, Greenpeace Japan bought a share in TEPCO and that allowed us to get a resolution on the agenda for discussion.
We wanted shareholders to approve the resolution so TEPCO would have to look into such things as the design, construction and maintenance of the Fukushima reactors to determine whether or not they are connected to the cause of the nuclear accident or made it worse.
If the reactors caused the accident, then the resolution called on TEPCO to investigate legal ways to make GE, Hitachi and Toshiba help pay for damages.
The people who lived around the Fukushima disaster site are still suffering. TEPCO’s shareholders have lost a significant amount of money. Yet, TEPCO has failed to look into ways to make the reactor builders help pay.
There was applause from the shareholder audience about our idea of reactor manufacturers bearing some responsibility. But in the end, the resolution was defeated.
Other shareholders, including an evacuee from the nuclear accident, called on TEPCO to permanently close its other nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daini and at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
By closing these plants, TEPCO could focus on creating a new energy industry, on based on renewable energy, and on creating a decommissioning industry.
We didn’t get the support from shareholders to approve our resolutions. But we were able to again highlight the failure of the system for regulating nuclear reactors that leaves taxpayers paying for disasters and not the companies that cause them.
Ayako Sekine is Greenpeace Japan's energy campaigner
[Image: Protest outside the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) annual general meeting in Tokyo to call on the campany to make nuclear suppliers such as GE, HITACHI and TOSHIBA pay their fair share for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. 06/26/2013 © Masaya Noda / Greenpeace]